Creative Toppings To Make Your Hanukkah Latkes Stand Out

While many people of varied faiths, backgrounds, and nationalities will gladly admit that fried potatoes are simply delicious, and that is good enough reason to eat them, why are potato latkes a staple of Hanukkah tradition? The reason for frying food in oil on Hanukkah is to remind Jewish people of the oil involved in the miracle of Hanukkah. The event that the holiday, also called the Festival of Lights, commemorates took place around 200 B.C., after Israel was conquered by the king of Syria, Antiochus III (via When the son of Antiochus III, Antiochus IV, took over, he no longer allowed Jewish people to practice their own religion and instead forced the worship of Greek Gods upon them, burning their temples and destroying places of worship. 

Upon taking back one of their damaged temples, a group of Jewish rebels known as the Mccabees, found there was barely enough oil to light their sacred menorah for even one night. Somehow, however, the oil went on burning for eight straight days and nights, giving hope and faith to the battered people. In memory of this, Jews traditionally fry foods like donuts and latkes in oil during the celebration of Hanukkah.  

The traditional toppings for latkes are either sour cream or apple sauce, and while those are both delicious just as they are, here are some great ideas to get creative with toppings for your celebration! 

Spicing up that traditional apple sauce

Because latkes are oily by nature and quite intentionally, it's nice to have a topping that cuts that oil with a bit of light, fruity acidity, and applesauce traditionally does the trick! Since latkes are served hot, the cool applesauce also serves as a pleasant contrast to the just-friend potatoes and lends a little sweetness to the salt. Another benefit to the applesauce is that unlike some dairy-based toppings like sour cream, if your Hanukkah meal contains meat of any kind and you keep kosher, then you can't actually eat sour cream in the same meal (as those who keep kosher cannot mix meat and milk) (via Chate Elaine). 

But if you're bored with plain old apple sauce, get creative! Add some extra cinnamon, a squeeze of lemon, or even a sprinkle of ginger to take the applesauce experience to the next level.  

A new spin on sour cream

Sour cream just as it is might be a delicious and traditional topping for your latkes, but if you're getting bored with this simple staple, consider pumping up the flavor! has a delectable, simple way of doing this. Simply mix one cup of sour cream, one tablespoon of lemon juice, a quarter cup freshly chopped parsley or dill, and freshly ground pepper. The herbs add a lovely cooling sensation to the already-cool cream, and the lemon juice and pepper add dimension. Enjoy!

Smoked salmon and cream cheese

While latkes are usually served at lunch or dinner time, that absolutely doesn't mean you can't have them for breakfast! After all, how different are they from a hash brown, really? Smoked salmon and cream cheese are classic toppings for a bagel at breakfast and brunch, so why not just switch up the carb involved and use a latke? The Food Network suggests doing just that, and adding some freshly-chopped chives as well. You could also add capers, sliced tomato, or whatever else you usually enjoy with smoked salmon. Breakfast is served! 

Sweet and salty

If you're looking for something a little lighter with more delicate flavors, consider Bon Appetit's recipe for sweet and salty latkes. You'll need pomegranate seeds, a drizzle of honey, and a pinch of flakey sea salt. If you really want them sweet, you can use sweet potatoes instead of russet. Bon Appetit also suggests adding Rosemary leaves for an herbal note. Sweet, salty, and full of interesting, pleasant textures, this spin on a breakfast or dessert latke is just begging to be added to your Hanukkah party menu! 

Citrusy and sweet

Another latke recipe that would work for breakfast, dessert, or even tea time, is Bon Appetit's citrusy, sweet topping. They suggest using orange marmalade, a dollop of ricotta cheese, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to create a one-of-a-kind snack. To add a salty element, they suggest a sprinkling of flakey sea salt as well. We imagine this would pair beautifully with a cup of orange bergamot-scented Earl Grey tea or even a cocktail like a mimosa! Definitely brunch approved.  

Avocado toast, but a latke!

Creamy, nutrient-dense avocado is a wonderful topping for many types of dishes because if its versatility. And if you're a fan of avocado toast, then this recipe for latkes is for you! The recipe from suggests one diced avocado, one diced tomato, a quarter cup of minced red onion, a teaspoon of kosher salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a tablespoon of lime juice. If you are looking to add a protein, we imagine a fried egg would do the trick perfectly! Another breakfast-ready recipe for your latke adventures! 

Eggs Benedict

And one more tempting breakfast recipe to round out our list: eggs benedict. This warm, melty breakfast staple that can be dressed down for a diner-like meal or dressed up for the fanciest brunch would be wonderfully complimented by a latke. Rather than putting the meat, egg, and hollandaise sauce over a biscuit, try serving it on a freshly-made, crispy latke for a Hanukkah treat (via Taste of Home). You could even add caviar or smoked salmon, something that might give the eggs benny a new twist!

Pastrami and mustard and pickles, oh my!

If you're looking to make your latkes into something fit for a luncheon, consider Babish's suggestion of adding pastrami, mustard, and a cornichon pickle to the top of your latkes. This adds protein, a savory salty flavor, along with some spice and a little sour thanks to the pickle. Skewer the pickle right down the center with a toothpick to create a nice presentation for guests. 

Enjoy! We wish you and yours a joyful, warm, and bright Hanukkah.